Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hymns for Sunday - Our God Our Help in Ages Past

A hymn that is not sung often enough, yet is one of my favorite hymns would have to be Our God Our Help in Ages Past. Written in 1719 by Isaac Watts it is a paraphrase of Psalm 90. Watts was an author who believed Christians should sing about the doctrine of their religion. He definitely did not shy away from that in this particular hymn. This is just one of his over 600 hymns.

One interesting fact about the history of this song is in 1738 Methodist John Wesley published the hymn in his Collection of Psalms and Hymns. However, before publishing Wesley altered some of the text. The most noticeable was changing the "Our" in the opening line to "O". It is said "Wesley felt that “Our” was a possessive adjective referring to the Calvinist doctrine of election. The Wesleyan all-inclusive perspective was satisfied by changing “Our” to the more ambiguous “O.” "1

Our God, Our Help in Ages Past

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men:”
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Learning to Pray.

Tim Challies post today was quite convicting, simple, yet has really made me consider my time in prayer. He posts a few nuggets resonating in his mind and the Lord is using that to convict me of my lack of prayer, my belief in prayer, and the power of the One whom I am praying to.

Quickly from Challies post:

Pray within your capacity to believe. One pastor said that we often pray beyond our capacity to believe. He used the example of praying for the salvation of his wife’s parents. He and his wife would pray that the Lord would save them, but they were praying without faith; though they knew God could, in theory, do this, they doubted that he actually would. What they decided to do was to pray within their capacity to believe, and so they began to pray smaller, incremental prayers for things they truly could ask in faith. In a similar situation you might pray that the Lord would bring your parents just one Christian friend, or that they would hear the gospel just one time, and so on. And once that prayer is answered, you can then pray for the next, slightly bigger thing. All the while you are ratcheting up your prayers while acknowledging God’s incremental answers to them.


Pray in Jesus’ name. To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray with his authority in a way that claims his power. In prayer I should always be asking, “In whose interest am I praying? What is God’s agenda in this?” In other words, I need to make sure that I have a conscience sense of praying to the Lord, the King, the Sovereign One. I pray not only to this God, but I also pray in his power and with his authority. That merits a “wow!”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Edwards' Resolutions - 1 & 2

Every year we make resolutions, which we make our best attempt to complete. But how often do these attempts end in failure? Why is this? I think it is primarily because we are working toward goals that are usually aimed at making us happy. But what makes us happy? Would losing weight make us happy? Maybe. But what if we gain that weight back, then what? We see ourselves as failures and are probably sadder than when we made that resolution to lose weight. (Don't get me wrong I think losing weight is great if a person is over weight and would not discourage anyone who needs to lose weight from that fight)

But what makes us happy? Christ makes us happy, not a superficial, short lived happy. But a deep joy and eternal joy that can only come from God, Christ's work on the cross, and his written word. People say we are most happy when we are doing what we were made to do. What was I made to do, what is going to be that thing I strive for that will bring me the greatest joy? I think it is well put in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. What is the chief end of man? To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Ultimately ours "rules" for how we are to glorify God and enjoy him are written in the holy scriptures. They are our ultimate authority. But there have be other things written in line with scripture and still subordinate to the scriptures that guide us and test ourselves to see if we are living a life that is glorifying to God.

One list I like to look at regularly and test myself is the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Written between 1772 and 1773 Edwards penned the 70 resolutions, which he read over each week to examine his life. He was adamant that it was not him keeping these resolutions in his own strength, but with the help of Christ.

"Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake"-Jonathan Edwards
I am going to be looking at these throughout this year and sharing them a couple at a time here. I will examine my life as I read through these. Not to have a check list that I can check off each day or week. I desire to grow in my relationship with Christ and in joy, knowing joy is complete in Christ. I pray Christ will enable me to keep these resolutions - I'm not sure to what degree. But more importantly would He enable me to keep in line with the holy scriptures and all it contains.

Resolutions 1& 2

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
Oh, how I fail dreadfully when I try to do these things on my own. Lord, enable me. Lord, guide my desires, crush those things within me that are self-serving, prideful, and contrary to your word and are not glorifying.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hymns for Sunday - A Mighty Fortress is Our God

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God" is probably one of the most familiar hymns regularly sung in worship services, written around 1529 by one of the greatest reformers, Martin Luther. It also happens to be one of my favorite hymns.

I don't know the specific history of this song, but we do know it was based on Psalm 46. I love this hymn for the deep, thoughtful truth it contains.

Take a close look at the words of this hymn:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Look now at Psalm 46:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Friday, January 21, 2011

End of the year recap

After another semi brief hiatus from blogging I'm back. I had a great time back in Wisconsin for Christmas and now we're off to a great start this year. I was a little late sending out my end of the year newsletter and now even later posting it here. But here's a quick overview of the past year. What a year it was. God did great things in Lakeshore, at Lakeshore Baptist Church, and in my life. To God be the glory.

Click the picture below to read the entire newsletter.